CBS Spotlights Benghazi Attack; Interviews Eyewitness

October 28, 2013 - 2:24 PM
CBS Spotlights Benghazi Attack; Interviews Eyewitness

From the 27 October 2013 edition of CBS's 60 Minutes:

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY (from press briefing): We do not have any indication at this point of premeditation or pre-planned attacks. But it is-

LARA LOGAN (voice-over): Contrary to the White House's public statements, which were still being made a full week later, it's now well established that the Americans were attacked by al Qaeda in a well-planned assault.

Al Qaeda tried to assassinate the British ambassador. Wood says, to him, it came as no surprise because al Qaeda – using a familiar tactic – had stated their intent in an online posting, saying they would attack the Red Cross, the British and then the Americans in Benghazi.

LOGAN (off-camera): And you watched as they-

WOOD: As they did each one of those.

LOGAN: Attacked the Red Cross and the British mission. And the only ones left-

WOOD: Were us. They made good on two out of the three promises. It was a matter of time till they – they captured the third one.

LOGAN: And Washington was aware of that?

WOOD: They knew we monitored it. We included that in our-- in our reports to both State Department and – and DOD.

LOGAN (voice-over): We have learned the U.S. already knew that this man – senior al Qaeda leader Abu Anas al-Libi – was in Libya, tasked by the head of al Qaeda to establish a clandestine terrorist network inside the country. Al-Libi was already wanted for his role in bombing two U.S. embassies in Africa.

GREG HICKS: It was a frightening piece of information.

LOGAN: Because it meant what?

GREG HICKS: It raised the stakes, changed the game.

LOGAN (voice-over): Greg Hicks, who testified before Congress earlier this year, was Ambassador Stevens' deputy based in Tripoli.

LOGAN (on-camera): So why didn't you get the help that you needed and that you asked for?

HICKS: I really, really don't know. I, in fact, would like to know that, the answer to that question.

LOGAN (voice-over): In the months prior to the attack, Ambassador Stevens approved a series of detailed cables to Washington, specifically mentioning, among other things, 'The al-Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings'.

MORGAN JONES: They said we're here to kill Americans, not Libyans. So, they'd give them a good beating – pistol-whip them, beat them with their rifles – and let them go.

LOGAN (on-camera): We're here to kill Americans.

JONES: That's what they said – yeah.

LOGAN: Not Libyans.

JONES: Yeah.

LOGAN (voice-over): About 30 minutes into the attack, a quick reaction force from the CIA annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound – at times running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there. Inside the compound, they repelled a force of as many as 60 armed terrorists, and managed to save five American lives and recover the body of Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith. They were forced to fight their way out before they could find the ambassador.

The same force that had gone to the compound was now defending the CIA annex. Hours later, they were joined by a small team of Americans from Tripoli. From defensive positions on these rooftops, the Americans fought back a professional enemy. In a final wave of intense fighting, just after 5 am, the attackers unleashed a barrage of mortars. Three of them slammed into this roof, killing former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

LOGAN (on-camera): They hit that roof three times.

ANDY WOOD: They – they hit those roofs three times.

LOGAN: In the dark.

WOOD: Yeah. That's getting the basketball through the hoop over your shoulder.

LOGAN: What does it take to pull off an attack like that?

WOOD: Coordination, planning, training, experienced personnel. They practice those things. They knew what they were doing. That was a – that was a well-executed attack.

LOGAN (voice-over): The Americans who rushed to help that night went without asking for permission, and the lingering question is why no larger military response ever crossed the border into Libya – something Greg Hicks realized wasn't going to happen just an hour into the attack.

LOGAN (on-camera): You have this conversation with the defense attache. You ask him what military assets are on their way. And he says-

HICKS: Effectively, they're not. And I – for a moment, I just felt lost. I just couldn't believe the answer. And then, I made the call to the annex chief, and I told him, listen, you've got to tell those guys there may not be any help coming....For us – for the people that go out onto the edge to represent our country, we believe that if we get in trouble, they're coming to get us – that our back is covered. To hear that it's not – it's a terrible, terrible experience.